Frequently Asked Questions
What is Toastmasters?
Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational corporation headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California. Its mission is to improve communication and leadership skills of its members and in general. Mainly, this works out to ‘improving public speaking skills’ but there is also a potent leadership and management aspect to the organization if you aspire to reach that level.
How Can Toastmasters Help Me?
Your success in business is based on how effective you are. Through participation in the Toastmasters Communication and Leadership program, people from all backgrounds learn to effectively speak, listen, conduct a meeting, manage a department or business, lead, delegate, and motivate.
How does Toastmasters work?
As your improved communication skills become obvious within the workplace, increased visibility, recognition and promotion will often follow.
Your improved presentation skills will win you the respect and admiration of your colleagues and employees – and make them wonder what you did to change!
Leadership skills acquired through participation in Toastmasters will increase your management potential.
As a Toastmaster you will acquire an increased ability to motivate and persuade, making you more effective as a supervisor or manager.
Members of Toastmaster Clubs have access to a wide range of educational materials, including books, audio and videotapes, and seminar programs available at reduced cost through the Toastmasters International Supply Catalog.
How will Toastmasters meet my needs?
Established in 1924, Toastmasters International uses time-tested programs that are continually updated to meet participants needs.
Self-paced programs allow you to progress as rapidly or gradually as your needs dictate.
The hands-on Communication and Leadership program provides the “how-to” and the practical experience so critical to progress.
Toastmasters Clubs meet at various locations in the morning, at noon and in the evening. You’ll be sure to find a Club that fits your needs.
The Toastmasters program is cost effective, especially when compared to seminars charging hundreds of dollars per day.
An atmosphere of professional camaraderie makes your Toastmasters Club a unique learning environment – informal, yet dedicated to learning.
The Toastmasters program can be tailored to meet your personal objectives. Whether you desire improvement in prepared or impromptu speaking, greater skill in the use of visual aids, experience and knowledge is to be gained in the areas that most interest you.
Is this just a group for people in the USA or for people who speak English?
No. The organization includes approximately 210,000 members in 90 countries, including Australia, the Bahamas, Canada, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
Toastmasters International publishes a complete set of materials in English and basic materials in French, Spanish, and Japanese. As translators make themselves available, more materials are translated.
How is Toastmasters organized?
All Toastmasters members belong to one or more clubs. Clubs consist of at least eight members and may have forty or more.
The recommended size for a club is twenty or more. Clubs exist in communities around the world, especially in North America, and it’s a rare locality in the United States and parts of Canada, that doesn’t have at least one Toastmasters club within thirty minutes’ driving time.
There are, at present, over 10,500 clubs around the world. There are many sorts of clubs: community clubs, corporate clubs, collegiate clubs and so on.
Vancore is club # 2179, part of Division N, Area 70, District 96
Do I have to ask permission before visiting another club?
Usually: No. If you’re visiting a community club, it might not be a bad idea to let them know you’re coming so they can tell you any details like what time members arrive and to re-confirm the location. Community clubs are almost always open to all and they’ll be delighted to have you come to a meeting.
Unlike some other organizations, where one must have a sponsoring member who invites you to a meeting and introduces you to the group, Toastmasters welcomes all guests. If the club is open to membership from the community, you will usually be offered a membership application at the end of the meeting.
What happens at a meeting?
The format varies slightly from club to club, but the basics include:
- The business meeting (usually very brief)
- Introduction of the Toastmaster of the Meeting, who presides over the program that day. The Toastmaster will often explain the meeting as it progresses.
- Prepared speeches from members (of which more below)
- Impromptu speeches from members known as Table Topics
- Oral and written evaluations of prepared speeches
- Reports from other evaluation personnel, such as the timer, grammarian, the Table Topics evaluator and General Evaluator
VanCore Meetings last 1 hour and 15 minutes.
What’s a “Prepared Speech?”
When you join Toastmasters, you receive a basic speaking manual with ten speech projects. Each project calls on you to prepare a speech on a subject of your own choosing but using certain speaking principles. Each manual project lists the objectives for that speech and includes a written checklist for your evaluator to use when evaluating the speech. Thus, if you’re scheduled to speak at a meeting, you generally pull out your manual a week, or two, in advance and put together a speech on whatever subject you like, but paying attention to your goals and the objectives for that speech.
Then, when you go to the meeting, you give your manual to your evaluator and that person makes written comments on the checklist while you speak. During the evaluation portion of the meeting, your evaluator then gives an oral commentary on how they felt your presentation went. The purpose of the extensive preparation and commentary is to show you what you’re doing well, and what areas you may need to work on.
What speech projects are there for me to work on?
In the basic (“Communication and Leadership” manual), there are ten speech projects:
- Icebreaker – 4 to 6 minutes – begin speaking before an audience, discover speaking skills you already have and skills that need attention.
- Organize your speech- 5 to 7 minutes – select an outline that allows listeners to easily follow and understand your speech.
- Get to the Point – 5 to 7 minutes – prepare a speech that has a general purpose (to inform, persuade, entertain or inspire) and a specific purpose. Project sincerity and conviction.
- How You Say It – 5 to 7 minutes – select the right words and sentence structure to communicate your ideas clearly and vividly.
- Your Body Speaks – 5 to 7 minutes – use stance, movement, gestures, facial expressions and eye contact to express your message and achieve your speech’s prupose.
- Vocal Variety – 5 to 7 minutes – use voice volume, pitch, rate and quality to reflect and add meaning and interest to your message.
- Research Your Topic – 5 to 7 minutes – support your points and opinions with specific facts, examples and illustrations gathered through research
- Get Comfortable With Visual Aids – 6 to 8 minutes – select visual aids that are appropriate for your message and the audience, use them correctly with ease and confidence.
- Persuade With Power – 5 -7 minutes – persuade listeners to adopt your viewpoint or ideas or to take some action.
- Inspire Your Audience – 8 to 10 minutes – The final speech in the manual calls on you to inspire your audience by appealing to noble motives and challenging the audience to achieve a higher level of beliefs or achievement.
As you can see, all ten projects above are wide-open for you to choose whatever topic you like. Even if you pick a controversial subject, Toastmasters audiences will evaluate you on how well you presented your subject, not on whether they agreed with you or not.
What is “Table Topics?”
Table Topics is fun! It’s also terrifying. Basically, it calls on members and even some guests, if they are willing, to present a one to two minute impromptu speech on a subject not known to you until the moment you get up to speak! A member of the club assigned to be Table Topics master will prepare a few impromptu topics and call on members of the audience to stand up and speak on the topic.
Topics might include current events, or philosophical types of questions, or even wacky questions that most often lead to very humourous presentations.
What is an “Evaluation?”
The Evaluation program is the foundation that Toastmasters is built on.
All prepared speakers, should have their speaking manuals with them and should have passed them on to the evaluators before hand. During the speech, and after, each speaker’s evaluator will be taking written notes and furthermore, plan what to say during the two to three minute oral evaluation.
Evaluation is tough to do well, because it requires an evaluator to do more than say “here’s what you did wrong.” A good evaluator will say “here’s what you did well and here’s why doing that was good, and here are some things you might want to work on for your next speech and here’s how you might work on them.” It’s important to remember that the evaluator is giving his/her point of view. Other members of the audience can, and should, also give you written, or spoken comments on aspects of your speech they feel are important.
What’s all the emphasis on time limits?
As noted above, speeches have time limits, Table Topics have time limits generally 1-2 minutes and evaluations have time limits of 3 minutes generally. The exception to this regards both Table Topics and General meeting evaluations. The timing is intended to keep the meeting on time and to put practical limits on various parts of a meeting.
We meet Wednesdays from 3:00pm-4:20pm on the 8th floor of 889 West Pender Street. The location is at the corner of West Pender Street and Hornby Street, an easy stroll from the Canada Line.
Guests are always welcome. Email our VP Membership for more information including location changes.